Louise Schroeder

(born 1887 in Altona Hamburg – died 1957 in West Berlin)

"If I was able to fulfill a special task as a woman, it was to bring people closer together, to strengthen their aversion to dictatorship and to help them as far as was possible."

As a Social Democrat, Louise Schroeder openly positioned herself against National Socialism and fought for the rights of the disadvantaged. 

Louise Schroeder was a German politician belonging to the SPD (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, Eng.: Social Democratic Party of Germany), one of the first female parliamentarians and the first woman mayor of Berlin. Schroeder grew up as the youngest daughter of eight children born into a working-class family in the Altona district of Hamburg. Her father was a construction worker and her mother a greengrocer. The social democratic mindset of the family shaped her from an early age; even as a young girl, she took part in workers’ meetings. 

After attending a commercial and trade school, Schroeder became politically active. At the time of the Weimar Republic, she was one of the youngest members of the German Reichstag, the National Assembly having admitted women for the first time in 1919. The political issues closest to her heart were workers’ rights and the protection of mothers and children. In July 1927, the first Maternity Protection Act in Germany was passed, not least due to her efforts. 

After 1933, Louise Schroeder was banned from her profession after voting as a staunch Social Democrat against the Ermächtigungsgesetz (Enabling Act), which paved the way for Adolf Hitler to assume sole power. Subsequently, she ran a bakery in which she consistently refused to give her customers the Hitler salute. After the war, from 1947 to 1948, she was the acting mayor of the now war-torn Berlin, where she made every effort to alleviate the suffering of the people. Her commitment to democracy, peace and gender equality is honoured today within and beyond Germany’s borders. 

Louise Schroeder in 1955 on her commitment: https://www.parlament-berlin.de/das-parlament/louise-schroeder-medaille (17/11/2022).

National Photo Company Collection, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons